Selim came home from work and found his apartment a shambles. Most of the furniture was broken, and there splotches of red liquid all over the walls. He sniffed. Ketchup. Sure enough, when he entered the kitchen he found an empty ketchup bottle sitting in shards on the floor.

There was a note on the kitchen table. He picked it up and read it.

"Darling--I've decided I can't live with you any more. You're too caught up in the strive for executive power. You don't see the things that really matter. So I've gone off to Chicago with Lorne. Don't try to call me. It's over. ---Walda."

He sat down heavily in one of the chairs--too heavily, as it turned out, for the chair collapsed. He noticed some more written on the back of the note. "P.S. I took the liberty of cleaning up a bit before I left. I hope you don't mind."

Selim sat on the floor, in the shards of the broken chair, for several minutes, his brain paralyzed. Then he stood up, tossing splintered and broken wood aside. He went into the living room and out onto the balcony.

His apartment was thirty stories up. He looked down at the city far below. He studied it carefully for several minutes. Then he walked back inside, leaving the door open, and started methodically separating the furniture into even smaller pieces than it was in before. He found a hatchet in one of the closets that proved a great help in the task. Soon all the living room furniture was in small, manageable pieces.

He picked up what used to be the leg of the glass coffee table. He walked back out onto the balcony, and then tossed it far out into the air. He watched it fall for a few seconds, and then he turned and went back inside.

He disposed of the rest of the living room furniture the same way, tossing it out piece by piece onto the city. The glass top of the coffee table was the hardest, but he pushed it over the edge and stood longer than usual, waiting to hear the satisfying shatter. When it came, it was rather faint, and he shook his head in vague disappointment.

When the living room was bare, he turned to the kitchen, first emptying the cupboards and then chopping apart the cupboards themselves. The microwave went over, but he decided to leave the fridge and stove untouched, after disposing of the contents of the former. Similarly with the sink and the cupboard supporting it, since he didn't want to flood the apartment.

Then the bookcase from the bedroom, and the bed, and the CD player, and his dresser, and all his clothes. Including, after some consideration, the ones he was wearing.

All the toiletries, the towels, the toilet lid, toothpaste, toothbrush, went over the edge. So did the mirrors from the medicine cabinet, once he pried them out.

Finally the apartment was bare, apart from the few things Selim had spared. He sucked on a finger that had been pierced by a splinter. Absentmindedly he threw the hatchet over the edge, too.

He stood at the edge and looked down, considering. So much of his life had just gone over. Why not the rest? It was tempting for a second, but not much longer. Selim shrugged. "Nah," he said.

He curled up on the floor and waited for the police to arrive.

---Dedicated to Sho Kuwamoto

Based on the words: Ketchup Chicago Executive Separate

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com